Friday, June 20, 2014

The lavender garden ...

Last weekend was spent in the lavender fields of the Texas Hill Country. It was our (almost) annual trek to the Blanco Lavender Festival to find inspiration among the gloriously fragrant fields of cultivated 'lavandin' herbs.

Image via

You don't have to live in the South of France to grow lavender (although I must say the fields across the pond are far more productive and beautiful than ours.) But, with knowledge of the varieties best suited to your climate and time spent learning the secrets of cultivating healthy shrubs, anyone can master a beguiling garden.

Le Clos de Meaux is a stunning olive and lavender farm in Seillans, France. Image via

One thing we learned very quickly is that the 'Provence' Lavender (botanical name: Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence') cultivar grows best for us in Central Texas. There certainly are others, but we've found that this variety is far less susceptible to fungus rot than others.

Alamodeus lavender garden.

The local varieties must be grown from transplants and need really well-drained soil to be happy. We planted ours in raised beds with lots of air circulation between plants. They want lots and lots of full sun (even in scorching Texas summers!) What they do not want is lots of water. Perfect! We're in a drought - a good match. Just an occasional drink from our drip irrigation, and these shrubs are happy.

Lavender 'Provence' in the Alamodeus garden.

Lavender 'Provence' is the sweetest of lavadins, so it's perfect as a culinary herb. The French add it to their Herbs de Provence spice blend. Another favorite in our area is 'Grosso,' which produces more oil and has a stronger scent.

With summer upon us, I'll be out to snip some lavender to create a lavender infused simply syrup. This is great to add to cool summer sippers like a Lavender Lemonade Mojito. Yum!

Image and recipe via

LAVENDER LEMONADE MOJITO RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4-7 lemons)
1 small bunch mint
2 C water
1 C light rum
3/4 C lavender simple syrup (see recipe below)

Lavender Simple Syrup:
1 C granulated sugar
1 C water
1/4 C dried lavender

Instructions:
Put sugar, water, and dried lavender in a medium saucepan, stir, and bring to a boil.

Once mixture comes to a boil, lower to a simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until it thickens. Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan, and let steep for about an hour.

Push syrup through a mesh sieve to strain out lavender buds and into an airtight container. Place in fridge to cool.

In a pitcher, muddle mint leaves with lemon juice until well combined. Add water, rum, and 3/4 C chilled lavender simple syrup.

Pour into ice-filled glasses and enjoy.

(makes about 4 delightful summer drinks)






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